Posts Tagged ‘Jude Law’

Carrie Coon, Jude Law

“THE NEST” My rating: B

107 minutes | MPAA rating: R

The opening scene of “The Nest” contrasts images of moneyed American domesticity — Dad playing soccer with his kids, Mom training horses — against a menacing musical score right out of a horror film.

“The Nest” isn’t a horror entry per se, but over the  course of a downwardly-spiraling 107 minutes it does reveal the horrors lurking just below the surface of what looks like an ideal household. It’s a great topic for writer/director Sean Durkin’s followup to his dark 2011 thriller “Martha Marcy May Marlene.”

And it provides an acting tour de force from Jude Law and Carrie Coon.

Early on the British-born Rory (Law) informs wife Allison (Coon) that he’s been approached by a former boss to return to the U.K. for a prestigious position in acquisitions and mergers. Allison is at first reluctant to leave the States (she’s a Yank), but gradually gives in to the promise of more money and a change of scenery.

When she and the kids — Samantha (Oona Roche), her teenage daughter by a previous marriage, and 10-year-old Ben (Charlie Shotwell) — arrive in London they are driven out into the burbs to a huge Georgian mansion Rory has rented for them. Despite the home’s storied history (apparently members of Led Zepplin lived there for a spell), its full-size soccer field for Ben and space in which to build a stable for their horses, Allison is turned off by the place.  It’s too big, too dark, too pretentious.

Rory, though, is on a hubristic roll, full of plans to get rich. To prove his newfound status, he presents Allison with a full-length fur coat.  Though she makes snide remarks about Rory’s sharkish fellow employees and their posh, social-climbing wives, she still finds excuses to pull on that expensive wrap.

It doesn’t take long for cracks to appear.


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Natalie Portman

“VOX LUX” My rating: B 

110 minutes | MPAA rating: R

One of the movies’ recurring themes — the pop/country/rock idol who makes great music despite (or perhaps because of)  personal demons — gets an innovative reworking in Brady Corbet’s “Vox Lux.”

The ever-surprising Natalie Portman is terrific as Celeste, a sort of musical mashup of Madonna, Gaga and especially Sia (who wrote the film’s original songs). But whereas those divas seem to more or less have their heads on straight, Celeste is always walking a fine line between musical brilliance and emotional meltdown.

Interestingly enough, Portman doesn’t appear on screen until halfway through the film.  Corbet’s screenplay opens with a horrific scene from Celeste’s youth — a school shooting that leaves our teen protagonist (Raffey Cassidy) with a bullet permanently imbedded in her neck (this explains her  collection of scar-hiding chokers).

Almost by accident, Celeste’s fame as a survivor of tragedy segues into a burgeoning career in music. Under the guidance of a savvy but fatherly manager (Jude Law) she begins recording songs with her older sister Eleanor (Stacy Martin) and touring the world. (The sisters have parents, yes, but they are seen only fleetingly.  Clearly, they’re not important to this yarn.)

Initially the girls behave like the good small-town Christians they are…but life in the fast lane takes its toll.  Celeste loses her virginity to the lead guitarist (Micheal Richardson) of a semi-psychedelic rock band.


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Jude Law as Dom Hemingway

Jude Law as Dom Hemingway

“DOM HEMINGWAY” My rating: B- (Opening April 18 at the Glenwood Arts, AMC Studio 30, and Cinemark Palace)

93 minutes | MPAA rating: R

Every now and then an actor needs to get outside his comfort zone.

In “Dom Hemingway,”  Jude Law leaves his usual suave screen persona wimpering in the dust.

That it’s going to be a bumpy ride is evident from the first shot of the film, a long take of Dom’s face and naked shoulders as he screams about the power of his penis.

It’s a mighty organ, to hear Dom tell it, capable of upending empires and slaying women who merely get a glimpse of it, and his spittle-spewing rant goes on for two, three, maybe even four minutes of uninterrupted profane poetry.

Oh, did I mention that Dom’s in prison and being pleasured by a young inmate while he lets rip with his phallic analysis?

Dom has spent the last 12 years in a British prison for refusing to give up the crime boss for whom he worked.  Now he’s getting out, and he fully expects to be repaid for his time behind bars.

He’s met at the prison gates by his old pal Dickie (Richard Grant, marvelously greasy), who over the years has lost one hand on a job and now wears an inflexible prosthetic in a black leather glove.

Dom has two things immediately on his mind.  First, sex.  Dickie has provided a couple of eager birds for just that purpose.  Second, he beats the living crap out of the nondescript guy who married Dom’s ex-wife (she has since died of cancer) and raised Dom’s daughter (Evelyn).


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Ralph Fiennes in Wes Anderson's "The Grand Budapest Hotel"

Ralph Fiennes in Wes Anderson’s “The Grand Budapest Hotel”

“THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL”  My rating: B (Opens wide on March 21)

100 minutes | MPAA rating: R

Wes Anderson’s “The Grand Budapest Hotel” is a whopper of a shaggy dog story – or more accurately, it’s a series of shaggy dog stories that fit neatly inside one another like one of those painted Russian dolls.

The film’s yarn-within-a-yarn structure and a delightfully nutty perf from leading man Ralph Fiennes are the main attractions here. I had hoped that “Grand Budapest…” would scale the same emotional heights as Anderson’s last effort, the captivating “Moonrise Kingdom.”

It doesn’t. But there’s still plenty to relish here.

Describing the film requires a flow chart. But here goes:

In the present in a former Eastern Bloc country, a young woman visits the grave of a dead author and begins reading his book The Grand Budapest Hotel.

Suddenly we’re face to face with the writer (Tom Wilkinson), who is sitting at the desk in his study. After a few introductory comments and a brusque cuffing of a small boy who is proving a distraction, the author begins telling us the plot of his novel.

Now we’re in the 1990s in the formerly sumptuous but now dog-eared Grand Budapest hotel in the Eastern European alps. Staying there is a Young Writer (Jude Law) who befriends the mysterious Mr. Moustafa (F. Murray Abraham). An aged empresario who owns several of Europe’s most luxurious hotels, Moustafa keeps the Grand Budapest running for nostalgic reasons.


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Rooney Mara...depressed

Rooney Mara…depressed

“SIDE EFFECTS” My rating: B

105 minutes | MPAA rating: R

For more than half its running time, Steven Soderbergh’s “Side Effects” keeps us guessing as to just what sort of movie it is.

It begins with a handsome young man, Martin (current “it” guy Channing Tatum), being released from prison.

So maybe it’s a gritty film about Martin trying to rebuild his life after years in stir?

But then we get to know his wife, Emily (the marvelous Rooney Mara, late of “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo”),  an emotionally fragile individual coming apart at the seams. No sooner is her husband back home than she attempts suicide by driving her car into a wall.

So maybe it’s a hard-hitting film about depression?

Emily and Martin visit a shrink, Dr. Banks (Jude Law), who puts her on a powerful new antidepressant (he’s also a paid consultant for the drug’s manufacturer). Then Emily begins having bizarre sleepwalking episodes and does something really horrible and criminal.

So maybe it’s a socially-conscious film about our prevalent drug culture and an industry that tries to peddle dangerous side effects-heavy pharmaceuticals as if they were soda pop?


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Downey as Sherlock...man of 1,000 disguises


129 minutes | MPAA rating: PG-13

The Robert Downey Jr.-powered “Sherlock Holmes” franchise, like the “Transformers” franchise, makes me feel very, very old.

Both series are hugely successful. Apparently they make other moviegoers terribly happy.

But they leave me feeling…empty. For all their visual razzle dazzle, there’s no there there. I might as well be beating myself over the head with an inflated pig bladder for all the pleasure these movies provide.

I know, I know. What a disagreeable old man I have become.

It’s not that I cannot appreciate superficial charm.  But these movies aren’t charming. Just superficial.


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Gwyneth Paltrow...not feeling so good

“CONTAGION’’ My rating: B (Opening wide on Sept. 9)

105 minutes |MPAA rating: PG-13

There’s no shortage of big names in the cast, but the real star of “Contagion” is filmmaker Stephen Soderbergh.

His latest is a hypnotic juggling act, a carefully calibrated mashup of characters and situations that proves him a master storyteller.

This time the maker of “Traffic,” “Erin Brockovich,” “Che” and “Out of Sight” (and, yes, the “Ocean’s” flicks) delivers a “what if?” thriller about a killer flu pandemic that puts mankind on the ropes.

“Contagion” paints a grim but fully-detailed picture of how we’d react in such circumstances, and it’s not pretty.


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